"If we had some eggs we could have eggs and ham, if we had some ham." That bit of humoristic wisdom from Groucho Marx actually draws quite a realistic picture of the art of public relations. Like so many other disciplines, communication requires a synchronized fusion of ideas, facts, vision and substance, none of which is guaranteed to be there at the same time. Or arrive in any particular order. Yet, when a story breaks, when news has to be communicated, you make the ham and eggs with what you have in hand at that moment.
In public health, breaking news and developments are frequent, and frequently serious. When major and local media cover a public health story, you can bet that news in some way has the potential to affect you. For instance, take a major food recall due to E.Coli or Salmonella. Or and outbreak of disease we haven´t experienced in ages. We seem to be seeing more of these kinds of events lately. That´s where the public/media relations director enters the picture for local public health. The PR professional is responsible for ensuring that the health department messages, instructions and presentations to the public are accurate, timely and understandable. This is particularly critical during emergencies. Coincidentally, it is also at this same time that creating meaningful public information is at its most difficult. Within the swirl of the quickly changing dynamics of an emergency, facts can often vary based on conditions at a precise moment. Yet the news goes out. Correctly. That´s the job.
The PR director for the Hunterdon County Department of Health built and runs a multimedia public relations program to ensure that county residents are apprised of health-related issues, that news of public health emergencies is quickly and effectively broadcast, and that the health department has a productive relationship with area media. Working with daily and weekly newspapers, radio and cable TV networks, and online media partners, the PR director strives to achieve broad multimedia coverage of public health news affecting the Hunterdon County community.
As for eggs and ham? The public health news of the Hunterdon County Department of Health endeavors to be nutritious on fact, tasty in presentation, and digestible for everyone.